- Impoverished backcountry farmers were losing their farms due to mortgage foreclosures and debts.
- Captain Daniel Shays (veteran of Revolution) led these desperate debtors in revolt: demanded cheap paper money, lighter taxes, and no more property takeovers. Som eof them tried to use violence to enforce these demands.
- Massachussetts authorities raised a small army and crushed the rebelllion. Daniel Shays was sentenced to death, but later pardoned.
- This rebellion struck fear into the propertied class, and raised a spector of anarchy. Had the American Revolution induced a never-ending spirit of revolt among the masses? Shays' Rebellion made it clear that republicanism could turn into the want for too much liberty, and civic virtue was being replaced with greed. A stronger central government was necessary!
- The current Articles of Confederation needed to be strengthened! => Constitutional Convention.
The Whiskey Rebellion. Date: 1794
- Hamilton's high excise tax was hard on the lower classes. A group rose and protested "Liberty and No Excise!" They tarred and feathered revnue officers.
- President Washington raised a small army of about 13,000 to march on these Whiskey Rebels. Rebs disperesed - only 3 were killed - and Washington pardoned culprits. The government commanded a newfound respect, but foes of the administration said it was like "using a sledgehammer to crush a gnat."
- The Whiskey Rebellion was one of the factors leading to the establishment of political parties. Democratic-Republicans believed stuff like the Whiskey Rebellion encroached on states' rights, and a party needed to be formed to protect the states, or the national government would become too strong.
- Both rebellions raised the spector of anarchy and called for intervention of the government. Shays' Rebellion called for revision of the Articles, The Whiskey Rebellion caused Washington to take a stand against rebellion and eventually caused political parties to form.
- According to Jefferson, these rebellions can be viewed as a positive (to check the power of the national government). “A little rebellion now and then... is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.”
- Difference between Shays' and Whiskey: Shays' rebellion was under the Articles of Confederation and the weak government and was unable to support, with force, the state of MA in order to aid in the defeat of the rebellion. The Whiskey Rebellion, under the Constitution, it became evident that the government was capable of enforcing the law.